Who Do You Think You Are?

Orphaned British Pensioner uncovers 1,500-year-old family tree

exclaimed a headline in London’s Telegraph.

Without the benefit of the web, Mr. Roy Blackmore set out to learn about the family he never knew.  He started with just one document – his birth certificate – and went to St Catherine’s House London to find out more about a great-grandfather who was born in 1825. For the past twenty-eight years Mr. 172Blackmore has spent twenty thousand pounds (around forty thousand dollars) to scour archives, cemetery records and census registers to lay a paper trail that traces his roots back 1,500 years. He has traced 9,390 ancestors and is applying to the Guinness Book of Records for the title of the World’s largest documented family tree. He can link himself back 37 generations to William the Conqueror (1027-1087), 45 generations to Alfred the Great (849-899) and 1,500 years to the Cerdick family who lived in England in circa 500 CE.

In England, genealogy has become popular due to programs like the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? In this country, genealogy has become popular due to the Internet and the great effort made to put all the US censuses online in recent years.  I myself have done some genealogy.  I was curious about my great-grandfather, called George Washington Davis who was born in Acworth New Hampshire in 1830. I am British by birth, and like many British people I have American roots.  As I now live in the US, I wanted to find out just how American I was!  I was able to trace my American family back to the birth of George Washington’s grandfather Thomas Davis, who was born in 1752 in Amesbury Massachusetts.  But I had the benefit of the Internet and all those online searchable censuses.  And even then, it took me four years of hard work and many brick walls.
Do you have any stories to share about your efforts to find out more about your family?  What techniques have you found most helpful in trying to get good-quality information?  What strategies have you found least helpful? Do you have any interesting stories you would like to share?

To get started on your own research, go to Ancestry.

Image shows an old inn near Cullompton, Devon, where many of Mr. Blackmore’s ancestors lived.

–Cynthia Haggard writes short stories, novels and poetry.  During the day, she is a medical writer and owns her own business.  For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories.  For more about her medical writing services, go to clarifyingconcepts.  (c) 2009. All rights reserved.

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